Metron-Farnier Is Using Data and Analytics to Help Users Waste Less Water

In a world facing water shortages, it’s never been more important to make informed decisions about how we choose to use our resources.

Across North America, utilities are imposing mandates that limit water use for certain activities as they grapple with dwindling supply. At the same time, they’re meeting growing demand for services, maintaining systems that are over-capacity, and working with restricted budgets.

When it comes to managing water use, granularity is key, says Matt Laird, CEO of Colorado-based digital water company Metron-Farnier. “To make the best possible decisions, we need a steady stream of data and the tools to make sense of it.”

With WaterScope, the company’s powerful cloud-based analytics platform, Metron-Farnier is helping utilities, ratepayers, and other users precisely pinpoint and identify water use issues at the source. Achieving a first for the industry, WaterScope collects water use data in one-minute intervals, making it possible for its users to act on precise, actionable insights.

“Our one-minute resolution allows users to determine the source of the water use, right down to a leaky toilet or a long shower,” says Laird. “Until now, that’s never been done.”

Tracking water loss

This level of granularity changes the game for utilities. “For decades, utilities have struggled to accurately track and resolve water loss,” Laird says. “With WaterScope, every meter reading is in step. For the first time, utilities can determine how and why they are experiencing water loss, take action if needed, and improve revenue.”

WaterScope is also proving useful as utilities work to meet growing demand for clean water. “When you know what your entire system is using, you can see how much capacity remains. It’s an incredible expense to expand treatment plants. With our platform, utilities can use accurate data to plan for, defer, or even avoid costly expansions.”

Property managers are also using WaterScope to track water use, particularly in situations where they rely on sub-metering for tenants. “In these cases, managers are ultimately responsible for utility bills,” Laird says. “If you’re managing the property, you might not know about leaks or excessive water use until you receive your bill months later.”

With WaterScope, he says, you can determine issues right away. “If you’re managing several properties, you can imagine the impact.” Metron-Farnier’s customers in this market have reported water use reductions of up to 50% per year as a result of implementing WaterScope.

Improving customer service

Laird says utilities and property managers are also using the data to support healthy customer and tenant relationships. Using WaterScope’s new leaks report, for example, a small utility in Massachusetts is developing a best practice to alert ratepayers to unusual spikes in water use and offering to help them locate any issues. “They’re helping customers avoid huge water bills and, in some cases, potential damage to their properties,” says Laird. “It’s helping them build the community’s trust.”

The utility also has a program to help ratepayers use the WaterScope app and interpret the results. “They can track water use, set benchmarks, and see how their decisions impact their water bills. It’s a bit like a Nest for water use.”

Eliminating water waste

Through the WaterScope app, homeowners also have access to data that can help them make informed decisions, target ways to waste less water, and save money on their utility bills.

Laird adds that one of WaterScope’s features can allow users to shut off water remotely. “It can also notify you if there is unexpected use,” he says. “In homes, this might indicate a leak. For utilities, it could identify an issue on a property that is not supposed to be connected to the service.”

The platform has value for anybody who pays a water bill, Laird says. In the United States, average residential bills are eclipsing $100 per month. “If you have access to a tool that can save you 30% per year, that’s real money.”

While saving money is a huge benefit, the platform also helps utilities achieve their sustainability goals. By giving customers access to near real-time data about their household water use, they’re empowering people to conserve during times of scarcity.

“There is a real need for these kinds of tools,” Laird says. “Visualizing the data shows customers how they can make a difference – not just for them, but for their communities.”